How can I get my cat to stop peeing outside the litter box?

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

I have two male cats that grew up together since they were tiny. They are both neutered but one, Loki,  seems to be more stressed out than the other. We brought Loki to the vet because he was standing in the litter box while peeing and pees against a wall (almost every day). They did find very small crystals in his urinary tract but she thought the behavior was stress-related. So we tried the Feliway and “Good Cat” herbal stress reducer. It seemed to work at the beginning, but now it’s back to his same routine. He pees in one location every day and defecates in the litter box. They both have their own litter box. We tried different boxes with different litter (wheat, regular cat litter, pellets, etc.) and he seemed to use the regular cat litter. We moved the boxes back to the regular spot they go to and now he’s back to his peeing on the floor thing. Is this stress related? And if so, what can we do to have Loki pee in his litter box? This is very frustrating and I don’t want to give him up. Please help!


Siouxsie: So far, you’ve done everything right: You took Loki to the vet to make sure the inappropriate urination wasn’t caused by health problems, you’ve used the Feliway and Good Cat to reduce the level of stress in his life, and you even moved the litter box to the place where he was peeing.

Thomas: The fact that Loki used the litter box when it was in the place he pees tells us that there’s something about that particular spot that’s making him feel the need to mark it with urine.

Dahlia: Is the peeing spot near a window or a glass door, by any chance? If so, Loki may have seen an intruder cat outside and decided to stake out his territory by urinating near the window where the offender was seen.

Siouxsie: If it is near a window or glass door, try covering the bottom two feet of the glass with an opaque cloth or a piece of cardboard. It’s not fantastic for your décor, but it could go a long way towards putting a stop to Loki’s unwanted peeing.

Thomas: After you’ve taken care of this step, you’re going to need to clean the place where Loki’s been urinating. Even if you can’t smell the odor anymore, rest assured that Loki can — and once it starts to fade, he’s going to feel the need to freshen it up again. The easiest way to clean the stain is to use an enzymatic cleaner.

Dahlia: But not all enzymatic cleaners are created equal. The product we recommend is Anti-Icky-Poo, which is phenomenally effective not only in neutralizing the odor but in actually cleaning the stuff that causes it. It’s worth the extra few bucks, trust us! (Also, if you order it from Cat Faeries, the site we linked, they’ll send you specific instructions on how to use it.)

Siouxsie: If you have carpeting, be aware that the urine may have soaked through the carpet and into the backing, and possibly even into the sub-floor. Any cleaning you do is going to have to take care of that deep-penetrating odor.

Thomas: For mild urine marking (and trust us, a place that’s been peed on many times is not mild) or a one-time “mistake,” a mixture of white vinegar and water can make for easy and inexpensive cleanup.

Dahlia: Whatever you do when cleaning up cat urine, do not use ammonia or bleach! Cat urine has ammonia in it, so by using ammonia you may be encouraging more urination behavior rather than less.

Siouxsie: After you’ve used the Anti-Icky-Poo to clean the spot on your floor, let it dry. Buy a piece of plastic carpet runner — the type that has the grip spikes on the bottom — and place it on the area where he pees, with the spikes facing up. This will make it much less pleasant to use that area as a toilet.

Thomas: And even if for some reason he still wants to urinate in that spot, he’ll be peeing on plastic, which is much easier to clean up than carpets or hardwood floors.

Dahlia: Geoff, we think you had the right idea when you put the litter box in the place where Loki has been urinating, but you may have moved it back to its old location too quickly.

Siouxsie: If after you clean up and put the carpet runner down, he’s still wanting to mark in that area, you can try bringing Loki’s litter box back to that place. This time, put it next to the upside-down plastic carpet runner. When he’s been using that spot for a couple of days, move the litter box gradually, like a foot or so per day, back to its proper place.

Thomas: If you’ve been using a Feliway diffuser, put it in the room where Loki’s been urinating. If not, consider purchasing one. If the room in question is filled with happy-cat pheromones, it will make him less likely to feel stressed enough to urinate.

Dahlia: And if all else fails, talk to your veterinarian about medication. Some cats have had really good results from a short course of Prozac. The drug will make your cat less likely to get triggered into his stress behavior and can help to re-wire his brain.

Siouxsie: We’re not big on using psychiatric medications on cats, but we believe that if nothing else has worked and you’re considering giving up your cat because of his behavior, please try the Prozac first.

Thomas: Good luck, Geoff. Please let us know how things turn out.

  • karen

    I had a cat that was doing the same thing. I did everything I possibly could to try and prevent it and figure out why he was doing this. I cleaned the litter box 4-5 times a day, tried different litter boxes, different kinds of litter, tried moving the litter box to where he was peeing, etc. But nothing seemed to work.
    I took him to the vet and it turned out he had problems with his bladder and kidneys. I was told that by him peeing beside the box, it was his way of trying to tell me something was wrong.

  • http://n/a Jay

    I have a male cat who does this standing up thing too. But first i have to explain something, cuz he didn’t do this at first. I had an older female cat (about 15) when he come here, he was maybe 8, and when Miss Kitty passed away, i took the 2 strays my ma had outside (she couldn’t keep in due to allergies). They were pretty wild, Biggs (my boy here), had known them, he was a stray who came along too. So when i brought them here, he knew them, they all get along, but that’s when he started doing this. I’m thinking a territorial thing. In fact, when the one female uses the litter box, he runs out there & then corners her & won’t let her get out sometimes. So i have to yell at him! My solution is this: i lined the floor with plastic (taped down), made a wall of sorts out of cardboard boxes & line them with plastic also so i can clean them & throw out when get too bad. It keeps the urine more contained, it gets on the plastic lined cardboard & the papers on the floor, but it works & gives them privacy, i have it so there is 3 walls & a partial 4th—the entryway to the box is open, of course. The one female stands sometimes too, but she has something wrong with her hindquarters, so i know why she does it. Just a suggestion you could try before you get rid of him. It may be a bit of work, but it’s better than him spraying on your walls, and this way all you have to do is buy a roll of plastic, some duct tape or clear tape (like you use to wrap a package, the wide stuff), and change papers. Most of your smaller stores may have papers they’ll give you, as they just throw them out around here if they don’t sell, that’s where i get the newspapers from. Hope this helps you. If he’s not sick, then it prob is territorial or stress.

  • http://n/a Jay

    Oh one other thing wanted to explain about the box setup–just use the wall part, you don’t need the bottom or top, just the what i call sides of the box, & if you tape the plastic on there good, you can mop it off if it smells bad & use it for quite a while. I use the i think it’s 3 ml plastic, comes in a roll for about i’m guessing $7 or $8 at Walmart. Lasts a while if you don’t change it alot, depending on how bad the smell gets for you! Good luck! If i knew your email, i could take some pics to show you exactly what i mean & mail them as an attachment.

  • Purple Cat

    Hello, I’m That Purple Cat! Welcome to my website, it’s all about me and how I am now a less stressed cat thanks to Feliway®; the secret to happy cats. My feline mission is to help educate you about your furry friends, to understand us better, so you don’t think we are just being naughty or that’s ‘just what cats do’. Modern living means us cats can get stressed too and feline stress can cause some nasty health problems or make us act strangely.

  • Jule

    Hello My little furbaby Sammy (male) starts his peeing in the squat position then he will slowly Rise up and shoot the pee straight out I have taken him to the Vet very Healthy very active VERY! active! no other concerns with him a very wild big 1 year old (Neutered) HHmmm? after reading the very informative posts I’m thinking My boy just pees this way? A thought I had was…… he plays alot and sometimes Runs to the box to pee real quick with the squat first then rises up as he is finishing, then runs back out,could this be the issue with him he is just in a hurry? he doesn’t do it all the time but, most of the time, I do have a big cat box a rubbermaid product,I appreciate any thoughts/suggestions Thank you!

  • Diane

    My cat is 5 years old and she’s fixed. Never had a problem until about a month ago. On 8-1-11 my mother passed away unexpectedly and I got her 7 month old female cat’ who’s also fixed. For the last month my cat Baby has been using the “potty” both peeing and pooping outside the box. My moms cat Missy uses the box fine. I’ve moved the box, put different liter down , added an other box and still no luck. Baby is pottying all over my house!!!! I have tile floors so clean up is pretty easy but four to six times a day and in different places is getting old. The bedrooms have carpet and she only potties on the tile…….HELP ME………PLEASE !!!! Not sure how much more my family can take. My husband read online that Baby maybe getting bullied by Missy. Missy is mean and wants to be in control but we’ve been trying to keep Missy from running Baby. Spraying her with a water bottle and all she’s just a little bully. What can I do… my mom is gone and I would love to keep Missy but my children have had Baby for 5 years and Missy has only been here since Aug.
    I appreciate any and all help. :) Thanks, A Mom in need

  • Melanie

    I want to share this with everyone, because I had such a problem with my cat peeing in my office. This went on for five years and a lot of Rug Doctor. I would punish her by locking her in the extra bath. And she didn’t like it, but it didn’t stop her. When I least expected it, she would do it again. (If your cat has a bladder problem, they would be peeing on material, like carpet or clothes, because it hurts less.) That was not my problem. I solved it by punishing her when she didn’t pee. Tabitha was willing to be punished when she did it. And she didn’t care how long the punishment was. But when I started punishing her and she had not done it, it griped her ass.The other was a game to her. But getting punished for no reason at all just was not fun. This still went on for a long time (6 months) before she gave up trying to train me. When she realized I was just too stupid to know when she did it and when she didn’t, she quit. The game was over. They’re smarter than we are. You can’t outsmart them.

  • ellie

    I have a female kitten and my parents decided to get another kitten but male. The male kitten is younger. They are both not fixed and the female kitten is already going in heat. But now she is peeing everywhere except for the litter. What do I do? Like how do i stop her from peeing everywhere?